The Ultimate Guide to Skiing Snowbasin With Kids

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If you’re looking for a unique blend of a family-friendly ski resort and a luxury experience, look no farther than Utah’s Snowbasin Resort.

Located just east of Ogden Utah, Snowbasin is truly one of Utah’s best ski resorts for families with smaller crowds than other resorts and an overall outstanding family experience.

snowbasin family skiing

We’ve skied at Snowbasin with kids several times over the years, and I can honestly say that the recent changes they’ve made are proof that they’re fully committed to a great family ski experience both in terms of safety and skiing. With a great early-season snowpack here in 2022, we headed up for a visit so that we could showcase exactly what makes family skiing at Snowbasin one of the best Utah ski choices.

With our kids being of all ages and abilities (ages 5-15 and all skill levels), we skied a bit of everything on the mountain. It did not disappoint one bit. Here’s everything you need to know about family skiing Snowbasin before visiting, for a completely seamless and smooth day!

snowbasin ski resort review for family

Snowbasin Vibes and Culture

After our recent family ski day at Snowbasin, our entire family agreed that it’s the perfect blend of a Utah family ski resort and a luxury destination. We’ve never been to a Utah ski resort with more greeters and support staff on the mountain who are just there to make sure that everyone is having a good time and has everything they need. Resort greeters were welcoming our ski kids with smiles and fist bumps at the base area, and then others were checking in with them about how things were going at the top of the gondola.

snowbasin firepit outside

As our 13-year-old said “I really felt like everyone who worked here really loved their job and actually wanted to be there, which made me feel really special and like I really wanted to be there as well.”

It’s instantly clear that Snowbasin prioritizes the overall family experience, and it’s the best feeling ever. From the parking lot shuttle drivers to the ticket scanners, and even the table bussers – we felt like everywhere we went, employees were welcoming and friendly and all went out of their way to make our kids feel special.

Kids Ski School at Snowbasin – Utah’s Best Ski School For Kids

ski school SNowbasin skiing with kids

The ski school at Snowbasin is top-notch, and we were nothing but impressed by the whole system. As a former ski instructor, I have a pretty good feel for what things make a ski school stand out, and I was simply blown away by the Snowbasin ski school. If you see no other reason to ski Snowbasin, which I can’t imagine, the ski school alone is enough for a visit.

First of all, let me mention the instructor-to-child ratios, because this one thing can make a major difference. In the 3-year-old program, every child is paired with a private instructor. For 4-6 year old lessons, there’s a ratio of no more than 3 kids to 1 instructor. For 7-12 year old group lessons, there is 1 instructor for every 6 kids.

Snowbasin skiing with kids ski school

These ratios are really small, and something that you won’t see a lot of bigger resorts adhere to. We’ve seen other Utah resorts with well over 10 kids in a lesson and it was a chaotic situation. When we talked to Krista the ski school director, she mentioned that while Snowbasin could make a lot more money by allowing more kids into their ski school classes, the extra money wasn’t worth the kids having an experience that wasn’t outstanding.

When you first walk into this Snowbasin ski school, you’ll likely feel more like you’re in a classroom than in a ski school. The kid’s ski school area for kids 6 and under is deliberately designed to look like a kindergarten classroom so it feels safe and comfortable for the kids. They’ll find colorful carpets, play areas, a countdown timer, and even a puppet show area. This is one of the key things that Snowbasin does so that ski school isn’t scary and intimidating, but that it instantly feels safe.

Snowbasin kids ski school
Snowbasin kids ski school
Snowbasin kids ski school

Ski school check-in, rentals, lunch, and pickup are all in the learning center area which makes it a smoother transition for kids as well as much easier for parents.

Ski School check-in and pick-up for the older kids ages 7+ are outside so they have more space to move around and the atmosphere there is incredible. Just as we walked from the main lodge to the ski school, our kids had at least 6 instructors welcome them and ask how they were doing.

Snowbasin kids ski school

The ski school at Snowbasin has a few other factors that really set them apart from other UTah ski schools for kids (or anywhere else for that matter). When kids first are checked into ski school, parents are given a special code, which is required to check their kids out. This makes sure that no child ever goes home with someone who isn’t their trusted adult. The checkout process is very secure and we love that it’s really organized – they care more about the kid’s safety than clocking out at the end of the day.

Additionally, every ski instructor writes down details about every child in the morning and carries it with them (name, contact info, exactly what they’re wearing), so that if there was an incident where they got separated from the group, they can immediately notify ski patrol with all the child details so that they can instantly find the child. After seeing instructors at other resorts who have had a child get separated from the group, I can tell you that these procedures are not standard, so we love that Snowbasin goes the extra mile to focus on ski safety for kids.

Snowbasin kids ski school

We got to tag along while our kids skied with an instructor and were nothing but impressed. The level of instruction is fantastic, and we highly recommend the ski school at Snowbasin!

If you’re a local, look at signing the kids up for the weekly ski programs. Kids meet with the same group and instructor all throughout the winter so they learn significantly more than they would with just a random lesson here and there. They have lesson options for kids from 3-15, so this is the best deal if you’re a Utah ski local!

Snowbasin kids ski school

Snowbasin Lodges

snowbasin lodges luxury skiing utah

Get ready to experience the most incredible ski lodges EVER! While most ski lodges are nothing special, the Snowbasin lodges will make you want to whip out your camera to capture the massive fireplaces, ornate chandeliers, and even the bathrooms. Yes, the Snowbasin bathrooms will blow your mind!

snowbasin lodge bathroom luxury skiing utah

All of the lodges at Snowbasin have a luxury feel to them, but they still manage to be family-friendly at the same time. At any given point, you’ll likely see kids gathered around the fire, moms with babies hanging out in the corner, and grandma and grandpa relaxing on the couches – it’s the best!

snowbasin lodge luxury skiing utah

If you’re looking for a lodge to beat the crowds and get amazing vies, head up John Paul. There’s a good intermediate trail to get down from the top, and the views will blow your mind!

snowbasin ski luxury lodges
John Paul Lodge

Where To Ski With Kids At Snowbasin

Between all of our kids, we got in some amazing skiing on all of the terrain we could at Snowbasin, so you will know EXACTLY what to expect and where to go when you ski with your kids.

skiing snowbasin with kids

Beginner Terrain For Skiing With Kids at Snowbasin

If you’ve got a beginner, you’ll want to spend your time on the Littlecat lift. It’s located right at the base area so has easy access from Earls Lodge and also from the Wildcat Parking Lot above. We love the Littlecat lift because the top has a super gentle slope and it gradually gets a little steeper as you get closer to the bottom, which is perfect for building kids confidence.

beginner skiing snowbasin
The beginner terrain park on Littlecat

The Littlecat lift also has a little mini terrain park, which is perfect for kids wanting to learn how to do things in the park, but on smaller features – it’s fun enough that even my teens like it.

Note: The Littlecat beginner area is one of the safest that I’ve ever seen. The entire thing is roped off from other runs (with a few entrance gates), so you don’t have to worry about fast or out of control skiers from other runs coming onto the beginner terrain, because they really can’t. This is just a small feature that makes it SO MUCH EASIER to ski with kids who are just learning to ski!

Advanced Beginner Skiing Kids

If you have a kid who is ready for more challenging terrain, you’ll want to go up the Wildcat Lift with them (ski from the top of Littlecat, through the Becker line (follow the signs) and over to Wildcat.

little boy skiing snowbasin

At the top, take the Eas-A-Long Trail down to Bear Hollow. Eas-A-Long can look intimidating for beginners, but it’s got a natural half pipe shape so it keeps them nice and contained and is PERFECT for getting them to perfect their turns on slightly steeper terrain. When Eas-A-Long flows into Bear Hollow, you’ll notice that the terrain gets a bit steeper and is filled with slow signs, gates to control traffic, and even safety patrol (in the green jackets). This used to be one of the biggest bottlenecks and unsafe areas of the mountain because of the ski traffic here, but Snowbasin has gone above and beyond to help make this area safer.

snowbasin safety patroller
Snowbasin safety patroller

From Bear Hollow, follow the Family Ski signs to Snowshoe for one of our favorite runs with little kids. We love that it’s wide and has a gently slope and the kids are obsessed with all the little jumps on the sides of the run. As you ski down here, make sure to stop at the animal themed ski safety signs to teach your family all about the skiers responsibility code.

Tip: If your kids can memorize all 9 parts of the skier responsibility code and tell them to a green jacketed safety patroler, they will get a coupon for a free hot cocoa!

Intermediate Terrain For Skiing With Kids at Snowbasin

If you have an intermediate skier, you can ski all over the whole mountain at Snowbasin. Every run has intermediate terrain off of it, so the possibilities are HUGE! Here are our favorite intermediate ski runs at Snowbasin:

intermediate skiing for kids at Snowbasin

Needles Gondola:

Easiest Way Down – Porcupine Traverse – Sweet Revenge – Bear Hollow
Take the traverse all the way until it meets Sweet Revenge since the top of Sweet Revenge is pretty steep.

Strawberry Traverse – Dans Run – Bear Hollow
The skiing kids LOVE Dans Run since it has fewer crowds and several fun little trails through the trees. (If you have expert skiers in your group, have them go a bit farther and ski the Cirque onto Dans).

needles gondola Snowbasin

Wildcat Lift

Beaverslide or Sunnyside – Bear Hollow
We love that these two runs are basically side by side so that everyone can spread out. This is a great place to give more experienced kids some independence while watching from a distance.

Porcupine Lift – it’s a slower chair, but is one of the best places to beat the crowds on a busy day

Easiest Way Down – Middle Bowl Traverse – Sweet Revenge
For the easiest way down Porcupine, take the Middle Bowl Traverse. It’s a nice gentls slope that gets you easy access to some other runs.

Porky Face – Needles Run
There are a few steeper sections here, but if you’re feeling up to a challenge, this is a super fun run!

skiing with kids snowbasin

John Paul Express

Many people think that John Paul is just for experts, but there’s one incredible blue run that’s well worth the ski!

Mt Ogden Bowl Road – Needles Run
This is a great intermediate run that has some good traverses to navigate around the steeper sections. We love having lunch up at John Paul and then skiing down this run with the kids.

Strawberry Gondola

Strawberry often gets overlooked because it’s on the far edge of the resort, which means fewer crowds and better snow. We don’t recommend skiing there on a stormy day, but if you can catch a sunny day, Strawberry is the place to be!

Elk Ridge – Main Street
This is the main run we recommend for intermediate skiers. You can start here and there are several intermediate runs that come off of Main Street, so if you see one that looks fun, go for it. You’ll find a few runs that have a gentle slope and moguls that are perfect for teaching kids to ski the bumps!

Expert Terrain For Skiing With Kids at Snowbasin

Snowbasin is packed full of expert terrain that’s really accessible. Unlike other mountains where you need to take multiple lifts and ski in an exclusive area of the resort to get expert terrain, we love Snowbasin because often the expert and intermediate runs are nearby which is perfect for a family with mixed abilities. For our family, it’s great to be able to take the lift up together, send one parent down a blue with some of the kids while another parent takes other kids down a black, and meet up halfway down the run. For our family, we feel like Snowbasin has the perfect blend of terrain variation and centralized locations to make family skiing EASY!

expert skiing with kids snowbasin black diamond

Note – the expert terrain at Snowbasin is just that – for experts. It’s steep and extreme, so if you haven’t skied here before, gradually work your way up to it so you don’t get in over your head!

Here are our FAVORITE areas for expert terrain skiing at Snowbasin.

Needles Gondola

Pork Barrel
Short and sweet, this is the perfect steep run on a powder day to give you a little boost of adrenaline. It’s right under the lift line and meets up perfectly with Porcupine Traverse blue trail.

Porcupine Lift

This slower lift is the perfect way to escape the crowds that can form at the base area on a busy day!

Powderhound Bowl will always be a favorite of ours. With a mix of trees and a wide open bowl the terrain on Powderhound is just SO FUN!

John Paul Express

Kid skiing moguls

This is THE LIFT to visit for expert terrain. Steeps, cliffs, and all sorts of extreme terrain are what you’ll find here (with one great blue off the top at Mt Ogden Rd). The areas under the lift and to skier’s left are generally steeper and more exposed and the areas skier’s right are more open and less exposed.

Hollywood
Our family’s favorite black run at Snowbasin. It’s got a good mix of bumps and open space, and has been a great introductory run before taking our kids on other runs on John Paul.

Roys
Another great one to ski with advanced kids and teens, Roys has a few trees to add variety to your run.

Strawberry Gondola

If you want wide open spaces and fewer crowds, Strawberry is THE PLACE to ski. Visibility and wind can be issues here so stick to skiing here on clear days if you can. Strawberry is a mix of wide-open bowls and fantastic bump runs!

Twist and Shout
A fantastic leg burner that will give you some good bumps and fun turns!

Moonshine Bowl
Just about the closest to heaven you can get on a powder day. You won’t regret it!

Becker Lift
Becker doesn’t get much traffic since it’s a pretty slow lift, and the main time we recommend skiing here is on a powder day when you want to escape the crowds.

Sunshine Bowl
Perfect if you want a wide-open bowl and lots of space.

The Wallows
Love the combo of trees and steeps? The Wallows is for you!

Getting To Snowbasin

While many other Utah ski resorts for families are clustered together, Snowbasin has its own unique location. This means that there is less ski traffic to deal with cutting done on your Utah ski commute.

To get to Snowbasin ski resort, you’ll need to head east on I-84 toward Mountain Green. Once you’re out of Weber Canyon, exit at Mountain Green and follow the Brown signs for Snowbasin.

From Salt Lake City, Snowbasin is about 50 minutes away, and from Ogden, the drive is about 20-25 minutes. On Saturdays, the drive can take an extra 30-40 minutes with traffic, but compared to most other Utah resorts, the traffic is very manageable.

Parking At Snowbasin

Parking lots can be one of the most stressful parts of skiing with kids. Long walks in ski boots while balancing skis and trying not to fall or bang your skis into the car next to you are never fun.

Luckily for families, Snowbasin has the very best parking situation we’ve ever seen.

If you’ve got young kids or will be on the beginner lift, try to park in the Wildcat parking area. It’s about .5 miles before you get to the main parking area on the left. We love this area for beginners and young kids because it gives direct access to the Little Cat Lift (the main beginner area) and is the perfect spot for tailgating or a quick break in the car. It’s also the smallest parking lot and has the shortest distance to walk, so it’s perfect for kids.

kids skiing at Snowbasin
Top of Littlecat with parking right there

If you decide not to park in the Wildcat lot, keep following the road and you’ll be directed to the main parking lot. The closest lot, Earl’s Lot A is reserved for vehicles with 3+ people, so it’s perfect for families and gives really great access to the resort. If you have 3 or more people, ask the parking lot attendants if there are spaces in the carpool lot before you park farther away.

snowbasin ski parking shuttle

The other lots, Earls B, C, D, E, Maples F, G, H and Canyon Rim all have a shuttle that will take you directly to the lodge so you don’t have to walk. Walk to the road at the side of your parking lot for pickup. The shuttles come by every few minutes and make parking at Snowbasin, even in the farthest lot, so easy.

At the end of the day, wait in front of the lodge, and the shuttles will take you back to your parking lot.

snowbasin ski parking shuttle

Safety at Snowbasin

We skied Snowbasin several times when our older kids were little, and it always seemed that there were a few places where there was a bottleneck of traffic and it was always so stressful for me as a parent of young kids.

snowbasin ski kids safety

We were thrilled to see that all of the old problem areas are now MAJOR SAFETY AREAS! Complete with several gates that skiers have to go through that make them slow down, slow signs everywhere and lots of safety patrol and ski patrol to keep things in check.

Snowbasin has put such an emphasis on safety, that if you see a green safety patroller on the mountain and can recite to them all the principles of the skier safety code, they’ll give you a coupon for free hot cocoa. This is a great touch because it got our kids to finally try and memorize the skier’s responsibility code, which really helps out all the other skiers on the mountain as well!

Our favorite “secret lodge” at Snowbasin is the John Paul Lodge. It’s at the top of the John Paul Express and has the most incredible views of the mountain. Not many people know to eat here, but it’s much less crowded than the main lodge – perfect for a busy weekend ski day.

family skiing snowbasin

Insider Tips For Visiting Snowbasin

After skiing Snowbasin and talking to LOTS of experts, there are a few things that you can do to make your day easier. here are our top tips for visiting Snowbasin:

  • Park at the WildCat Parking area if you have beginners
  • If you’re carpooling, ask the parking lot attendant if you can park in the carpool lot
  • Sign the kids up for ski school – 100% worth it!
  • Visit midweek for the smallest crowds
  • Stick around after skiing and enjoy the firepits outside. A great way to wind down and not get stuck in traffic
  • If everyone is an intermediate skier, eat lunch at the John Paul Lodge. The easy blue traverse down makes it really accessible.
  • If you have kids who are in 4th, 5th, or 6th grade, get the Ski Utah pass for them. It’s about $50 and will give them 3 free ski days at Snowbasin.

Where to Stay When Skiing Snowbasin

Snowbasin doesn’t have any on mountain lodging…yet. What that means is that you can stay in one of the charming mountain towns surrounding Snowbasin, and get an incredible vacation rental for your family ski trip. Here are a few of our favorites:

Luxury Lakefront Home
If you want a stay that has all the luxury of Snowbain, this it the place to go. 6 bedrooms and 3 outdoor living areas are perfect for a group. Private hot tub and lakefront location.

Edgewater Townhome
4 bedroom, 5 baths, with a hot tub and a BBQ. Sleeps 12, so perfect for a group!

Lakeside Luxury Condo
3 bedroom condo that’s close to Pineview reservoir and Snowbasin, with a hot tub and a garage/. Sleeps 11 in 3 bedrooms.

Family Condo
Private hot tub, and access to the community pool and pickleball courts, this is a great spot to stay for a group. Sleeps 13 in 4 bedrooms.

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